NEWCASTLE UNITED are hoping to make a double transfer breakthrough in the next few days, with deals currently on the table for Arsenal centre-half Rob Holding and Porto striker Moussa Marega.

Magpies officials have held discussions over a number of targets in the last few days, with Steve Bruce desperate to strengthen his squad ahead of his side’s opening Premier League fixture in just under a fortnight’s time.

Chelsea youngster Conor Gallagher remains a leading loan target, but the Blues are yet to decide whether to allow the forward to leave Stamford Bridge. Another potential loanee, Rhian Brewster, is in an identical position, with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp still to decide what to do with the 20-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Swansea City.

Harry Wilson, Callum Wilson and Josh King have all been the subject of intensive talks in the last fortnight, but with Mike Ashley having imposed strict budgetary constraints in the wake of the collapse of Amanda Staveley’s attempts to engineer a takeover, striking a deal for any of the trio has thus far proved impossible.

As a result, Bruce has focused his attentions on Holding, who is set to join on a season-long loan from Arsenal, and Marega, who has been the subject of a €15m offer that Porto officials are understood to regard as a starting point for future negotiations.

Holding was part of the Arsenal side that beat Liverpool on penalties to claim the Community Shield yesterday, but the 24-year-old has been told he does not feature in Mikel Arteta’s first-team plans for next season.

Last week’s signing of Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille has pushed Holding further down Arsenal’s defensive pecking order, and with Sokratis set to return from quarantine this week, the former Bolton defender has accepted he will have to move on in order to secure regular senior opportunities next term.

Leeds United have expressed an interest, but Newcastle’s discussions are at a much more advanced stage and Holding is set to travel to Tyneside to undergo a medical and complete the formalities of his move this week.

A versatile defender who can play at centre-half or full-back, Holding will strengthen a defensive unit that is currently without Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar, both of whom are recovering from injuries sustained in the final weeks of last season.

At the other end of the pitch, Newcastle’s resources are even more stretched, with Andy Carroll the only senior striker available for yesterday’s friendly with Barnsley. Dwight Gayle injured his knee in last week’s friendly win over Crewe, and while Newcastle officials have refused to put a timescale on his recovery, the 29-year-old is expected to be sidelined for at least a month. Joelinton has played no part in Newcastle’s pre-season programme so far, with the Magpies hierarchy refusing to comment on suggestions the Brazilian is self-isolating because of coronavirus restrictions.

Newcastle have tabled a €15m bid for Marega, a 29-year-old Mali international, but Porto have previously suggested they regard €20m as the lowest price they are willing to consider. Marega’s contract, which is due to expire next summer, contains a €30m release clause, but Porto’s board accept they are extremely unlikely to receive such a high offer given the striker’s contractual situation.

However, they have previously resisted approaches in the €15m bracket, and there will have to be some movement on both sides in order for a deal to go through. Marega scored 13 goals in 30 appearances for Porto last season.

Newcastle continued their pre-season preparations with a 2-1 win yesterday, with Carroll and Jacob Murphy finding the target. Having spent last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, Murphy is set to remain with Newcastle’s first-team squad next season.